Beginners Guide: How to Win at Hold’Em Poker

The world of online poker can be confusing. With terms like the flop, the turn, the river, raising, pot odds, folding, value bets, bluffs and others used on a regular basis, it’s likely that as a beginner, you’ll have no idea how to even begin!

There are, however, some things you can do to start winning in online or live poker straight away. These techniques should work for you as long as you remain patient while you’re trying them. If you play them correctly over a period of time, you’ll win. That’s why you’ll see the same poker stars on television, most of the time.

The Basic Rules

The first thing you’ll need to be successful at Hold’Em is a basic understanding of the rules. If you’re not sure, get a more thorough understanding by reading The Basic Rules of Hold’Em.

Don’t be Afraid to Bet

Next, you need to understand the value of a bet. Your bets should always correlate to the value of the blinds. For example, if blinds were at 100/200, a standard opening bet would be about 600, or three times the big blind. You do this to give some clout to your bets. You need to make sure that you’re either scaring off would-be players from the pot, or a getting a good amount of money from your winning hand. The same is true of the size of the pot. Don’t be afraid to bet half or three-quarters of the size of the pot to get a return on your hands. If you don’t bet enough, your bets will have no power and achieve nothing in the game.

Play Tight

Playing tight means to wait for a good hand, and then start betting. What hands might you be waiting for? I’d probably say something along the lines of 10-10 and up. There are a range of hands you might use, such as K-10, Q-K, J-Q and of course, K-K, Q-Q and Aces. Playing tight serves two purposes. The first is that it allows you to watch the other players and see how they are playing, which will help when you are in a hand. The other is that when you are in a pot, you’ll probably have something to play with.

While you are playing, you’ll likely notice that one player begins to take the lead. They are known as the chip leader and are to be watched closely. Likewise, you’ll notice that as the game goes on, some players will get more chips or cash than others. This is very important as the size of a chip stack gives that player a lot of power. Be wary of the more powerful members at the table. Try not to bet into a player that has a lot more table power than you. Likewise, it can be a good idea to try and get into hands with less powerful players. You can make a lot of money in poker by simply playing your position.

Although these concepts are incredibly basic, they will help you to start playing online or live hold’em poker. If you’re a beginner, remember that patience and awareness are your best weapons in poker. Play tight and when you have something, don’t be afraid to bet!

Tools for Playing Online Poker

Many debate the pros and cons of playing poker online. There’s always the benefit of seeing drastically more hands per hour, but there’s the negative of being unable to get a good read on your opponent. Software developers and code programmers have been at work for years trying to remedy this situation.

A vast array of programs has been designed to aid players in playing their hand, and to provide useful information on opponents playing styles. There are odds calculators, stat trackers, and end-game analyzers galore, all designed and marketed to give you the ultimate edge.

Before you can decide on what software is going to enhance your online skill, you must first know that some of the particular types of programs are prohibited by sites like and Poker Online For All. Both poker rooms list their criteria for prohibiting software on their respective websites, PokerStars even goes as far as to provide lists of prohibited and permitted software.

Poker Tool Software

Odds calculators such as Pokerbility and Calculatem Pro calculate hand and pot odds, and make suggestions based on a chosen playing style. With this valuable math already figured, players can make an informed decision based on good instinct and the best odds.

Tracking software has become the next big advantage in online Poker. Knowing your opponent is vital in any poker, but it is especially important when playing online where it is nearly impossible to pick up (or give off) tells. Software like Poker Tracker allows users to import hand histories from nearly any online poker site.

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They provide accurate and extremely valuable information on you and your opponents game including playing style, individual hand stats, and win percentages. Poker Tracker is worthwhile for any session, during any game, under any circumstance, tracking Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud statistics for cash games, SNGs and tournaments.

Poker Strategy Guides

Besides the technical aspect of playing online, there is a certain strategic one as well. Many top poker pros have written extensive poker strategy guides, most of which contain sections, entire chapters, and full volumes on mastering the online game.

Two-time World Champion Doyle Brunson’s Super System: A Course in Power Poker is the essential poker guide. Super System covers nearly every major poker variant with detailed advice, hand analysis, and personal experience from the absolute best at each game. Though not tailor-made for playing online, there is no better guide to understanding the game and developing your own playing style.

Along these same lines, ‘95 World Champion Dan Harrington’s three-volume series Harrington on Hold’em is the ultimate guide on tournament play. Harrington provides skilled and experienced advice on how to play at each stage that applies both live and online.

Online hot shot and two-time WSOP bracelet winner Scott Fischman’s book Online Ace is currently the top guide on all aspects of online poker. Fischman breaks down strategies for playing, bluffing, and winning online that he’s parlayed into a record 20 cashes in PokerStar’s World Championship of Online Poker.

Another book that get high marks for online strategy is Collin Moshman’s Sit n’ Go Strategy. It provides a comprehensive study and analysis of playing online Sit n’ Go tournaments for money. It is a basic how-to for beating some of the world’s most profitable poker tournaments.